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By Martin Popoff
What was the main problem with Johan?
"The problem with Johan wasn't so much our problem as the problem our fanbase had with him. Making three albums and then making a live album on top of that in Japan, it just finally hit home that 'yeah, maybe everybody is right.' We had such a wall of criticism against him, about how he was fronting the band live, especially. When you start out a band you say, 'we don't care what everybody says; if they think he's not right for the band vocally or visually' and then after a while you say, 'well, maybe they are right.' He really didn't have a strong enough personality and charisma to do that. And I kind of feel bad for him as well because he was kind of like a puppet on a string. He really didn't find his own feet somehow, in the band. Whereas someone like Angela, she came straight into the band and just took over (laughs), you know what I mean? Angela just walks into a room and everybody knows she's in the room because she's just got this natural charisma. I mean, I didn't want to be in a band that was like, 'yeah, there are two guitar-playing brothers,' and that's the only interesting thing about the band. You need a big, strong personality. You need a Dickinson or Halford out there somehow (laughs), that the fans can relate to. And with the vocals, we also wanted somebody had a bit more of a raw voice. Johan had more of an old school Swedish death metal-type voice. I don't know. He just didn't develop at the same rate as the band was. It was a tough decision, kicking somebody out. I mean, I've known the guy since I was 17. It feels shitty to do that. I don't know, I'm running out of friends rapidly (laughs). I guess I'm going to die an old lonely person."
"But the thing is," sez Michael offering a final word on the subject, "we wanted a fresh face; that was the ideal thing. Someone who comes out of nowhere with a great look, great image, great personality and a f**king killer voice and attitude; someone who comes in and everybody is just like, 'F**k ya, this rocks!' instead of having people say 'This is that guy from this band'. We joke and say, 'We have enough legends in this band.' That's a bit of self-irony there (laughs)."